When you hear spectators and coaches talk about baseball, they might sometimes refer to a “perfect game.”
Fans might dream about a “perfect game” for their favorite baseball team.
If you’re unfamiliar with baseball, you may be unsure of what a perfect game entails.
Are they talking about the weather or a game in which no one strikes out?
Knowing what a “perfect game” means in baseball can help you understand just what they’re talking about and why it matters.
What Is A Perfect Game In Baseball?
A perfect game occurs when a pitcher can pitch every ball without anyone getting on base.
Essentially, it means that no one can get on base because of the perfect pitching.
It’s called a perfect game because, for the pitching team, having zero runs scored against them is a surefire way to win the game.
All the pitching team needs to do is score just one run and the game is theirs.
Because no one makes it on base in a perfect game, they’re extremely rare.
A perfect game also means that the pitcher can’t allow anyone to reach base through errors or walks.
Since it’s so difficult to do, only a handful of pitchers have been able to achieve a perfect game.
Only one player has managed to pitch a perfect game during a World Series.
How Rare Is A Perfect Game In Baseball?
A perfect game is extremely rare in baseball.
There are many different variables that can make it so the hitter is able to get on base.
Here are some of the factors or variables that can ruin a perfect game.
1. No Hits
One of the ways that a team can quickly end a perfect game run is by hitting the ball in play.
It doesn’t count if the player hits the ball, and it goes out of bounds.
A hitter is unable to progress to a base if they hit the ball out of bounds.
As such, it only matters if they hit the ball in bounds.
While some pitchers can keep players from hitting the ball for a long time, inevitably, someone is likely going to be able to hit a ball they pitch eventually.
It takes a talented pitcher to be able to continue to fool hitters for nine innings.
Perfect games also typically don’t last as long as games where people are getting on base—at least for the pitching team.
If no one is reaching a base, then it means the pitcher is striking them out.
Since they only need three outs to end the inning, if a pitcher is throwing a perfect game, then it means the inning will come to a rather quick end after they get three successive outs.
That said, when it’s their turn to bat, the other team might take a bit longer to get their three outs to officially end the inning.
As long as the pitcher can pitch those three successive strikeouts, then he can end his team’s pitching round quickly and have a greater chance of pitching a perfect game.
There are a lot of talented hitters out there, however.
They make it difficult for pitchers to pitch that perfect game.
As such, one variable that pitchers have to account for to pitch a perfect game is the skill level of hitters.
2. Hit By Pitches
Another variable that can interrupt a pitcher’s perfect game is if they accidentally hit the batter.
Hitting a player with the ball is a foul.
It immediately allows the hitter to go to first base.
This can be a real problem for the pitching team since it could result in a run scored.
In a game that has, so far, been a perfect game, the threat is minimal.
In a game where there the bases are all full, then it means the hitting team immediately scores a run.
The team scores a run when bases are loaded because they have to make room for the hit player to go to first base.
Since everyone moves up a base, it means the third base player is able to reach home without any problems.
In a perfect game setting, however, since the hitter is able to advance to first base, it ruins the pitcher’s perfect game.
A hit-by-pitch is an error on the pitcher’s side.
While it’s rare since most pitchers don’t want to give the opposing team a chance to score, it can happen.
The ball might slip in a pitcher’s hand and end up going in a different direction than they had intended.
The hitter might move a fraction of an inch at the wrong time and end up in line with the ball.
However it happens, it’s a rotten piece of luck and can ruin a perfect game.
A final variable that can ruin a perfect game is if the pitcher either forces the hitter to walk on purpose or by accident.
A pitcher can either throw a strike, a hit, or a ball.
If a pitcher throws too many balls, then it means the hitter is able to walk to first.
The pitcher was unable to fool the hitter into swinging at inopportune times.
To pitch a perfect game, a pitcher cannot allow a hitter to walk.
That means they have to be careful about how many times they try to throw a ball.
The downside is if they focus solely on strikes, then there’s a chance that the hitter might hit the ball and also ruin their perfect game.
An intentional walk is when the pitcher will intentionally throw balls.
It’s usually done for a strategic purpose.
However, if a pitcher does that, then they’re going to end their perfect game.
As such, a pitcher has to sometimes decide between the team’s strategy and their own pursuit of a perfect game.
Walks can upset a perfect game.
What’s The Difference Between A Perfect Game And A No-Hitter?
Sometimes you might hear the term “perfect game” mixed with a “no-hitter.”
Both can be true, but they are not the same.
A perfect game is when a pitcher throws the ball in such a way that no batters ever make it to base.
A no-hitter, on the other hand, is when a game occurs without any hits.
It’s different from a perfect game because it means some players may have still reached a base despite not hitting the ball.
This usually means that they walked or there was an error that allowed them to reach a base.
It can also occur because the pitcher accidentally hit them with the ball.
As such, the difference between a perfect game and a no-hitter game is that in a no-hitter game, players can still reach a base and cannot in a perfect game.
Has There Ever Been A Perfect Game In Baseball?
Yes, there have been a few perfect games in MLB’s history.
In fact, there have been 23 perfect games.
The first two occurred in 1880.
That said, no pitcher has ever pitched two perfect games.
There was also a perfect game that occurred during the World Series.
Don Larsen is responsible for the perfect game that occurred in Game 5 of the World Series in 1956.
No one has been able to pitch a perfect game during the World Series since.
A perfect game is an incredibly difficult achievement to pull off.
It requires a pitcher to allow zero base runs.
Only 23 pitchers have been able to pitch a perfect game so far, and only one of those pitchers did it during the World Series.